Fern leaves curling is a sign that they are not in the best of health. Learn how to spot what causes this and how you can deal with it as you read below.Fern Leaves Curling

We have covered different possible reasons why it happens and different ways how you can resolve it accordingly. We’re excited to help you, so let’s start!

What Are the Reasons To Have Fern Leaves Curling?

The reasons to have fern leaves curling are watering the plant excessively or the lack of it, also due to soil problems, pests and diseases, and nutrient deficiency. In addition, it may also be due to temperature issues, fertilization issues and excessive sunlight.

– Overwatering or Underwatering

Either of these two wrong practices about watering can cause your leaf fern to curl. Underwatering can cause dehydration quickly, especially when the weather is hot and dry. Though your plant is still alive, you may notice the leaves will start to shrivel and curl from the tips and fall off when your plant starts to lack water.

While overwatering can cause your fern leaves to wilt, turn yellow, and fall off. These symptoms are also a result of not using a well-draining pot. Waterlogging takes place, blocks the nutrients in the root zone, infects the roots, and quickly leads to root rot that causes browning and softening of the roots.

If left untreated, it might result in death. Which is why you must keep in mind that different types of ferns need different levels of water, so you have to determine what particular kind of fern you are growing.

– Fertilization Issues

Though fertilizers are essential to make your plant healthy, excessive or deficient fertilization can cause harm to your fern. When you apply fertilizers too often, they will accumulate on the soil and become salt. Salts can be damaging to the roots and cause root rot that results in yellowing and curling leaves, especially at the edges of the fronds.Reasons of Fern Leaves Curling

In severe cases, over-fertilization results in the burning of the roots and it would cause the death of the plant. This is why you must ensure that you give your plant the right amount of nutrients the right way.

– Temperature Issues

Having low humidity also causes the curling of your leaf fern. Ferns require humidity and moisture to survive, just like in their natural habitat, and if it isn’t mimicking, the leaves will become weakened.

When the air surrounding them is too dry, especially indoors, which usually has a heating or air-conditioning system, the plant suffers and causes the leaves turning brown, especially on the tips, curling up, and getting dry. In some cases, the plant will go into a state of dormancy to survive the dry condition.

– Too Much Sunlight

Ferns need sunlight to grow healthily, but excessive direct or harsh sun exposure can cause damage to the leaves, such as burns. Burning of the leaves appears in the color brown or black depending on its intensity. In this case, the leaves will start to curl up, become dry and brittle, and eventually drop off. This damage typically happens in the summer when the sun is hot.

The good part is that this occurrence is reversible, but it can create long-term damage if you allow the leaves to remain curled up for a long period of time. As a matter of cautiousness, you must make sure that you would deal with it as soon as you notice it is declining in health, but remember, some fern species can tolerate direct sun, unlike other species.

– Soil Issues

The soil type with low nutrient content affects the plant’s appearance. This is where the plant gets almost every nutrient it needs to be able to thrive. In case, they need well-draining soil that does not retain moisture for a long time to avoid having root rot. Meanwhile, if the soil is too dense, it won’t allow the roots to get the oxygen they need.

Another issue is if the soil is too sandy, it will dry the roots, so leaves curl up in an attempt to conserve moisture. The same goes when having a high pH soil. It can leave the plant open to chlorosis, the symptoms of which include leaves curling and yellowing.

– Nutrient Deficiencies

There are various ways that one can know whether your plant has nutrient deficiencies. Your plant will experience stunted growth, ferning, and purple leaves when it lacks phosphorous. When it lacks nitrogen, the leaves will turn yellow, and the edges will start curling. When it lacks potassium, the leaves will become brown and curl up, and the flower buds will start dropping.

– Pests

A severe pest infestation can result in leaves curling and turning yellow. The most common and dangerous insect for ferns is scales. Scales are very small insects that would feed on chlorophyll of the plant. If you see white lumps on the stems and undersides of the leaves, those are probably scale insects that are sucking the sap of your plant.

Aside from scales, mealybugs can also infest your fern, so watch out and inspect your plant thoroughly from time to time because though they are little, they can cause a great deal of damage to your fern.

– Diseases

Indoor fern leaves curling, browning, and having spots or mildew could be a sign of suffering from a disease. Plants growing outdoors have stronger immunity than indoors because they are not provided with good ventilation and do not have the right growing conditions. This causes them to attract fungal diseases easily.

What Are Ways To Deal with Fern Leaves Curling?

To deal with fern leaves curling, water them properly and use adequate fertilization, increase the humidity, and provide adequate sun. Moreover, you should also check the soil condition, provide the right nutrients, get rid of pests, and tackle the diseases

– Watering Properly

Ferns love water and moisture, so they are therefore not drought-resistant part of the care guide of the plant. It is significant that you are regularly providing the plant with adequate water to avoid watering less than what is needs while also preventing the excess of it too. Be sure that you use well-draining soil and a pot with holes underneath to provide correct drainage to avoid root rot that causes the curling of the leaves and other bad symptoms.

To avoid excessive watering, allow the soil to dry out every time that you water the plant. It is best to give your ferns water only when the top few inches of the soil are dry to the touch.

– Adequate Fertilization

If you think you are overly fertilizing your plant, drain the excess fertilizer using a stream of water. Get your plant outside, and allow the water to flow through your plant for a couple of minutes. Doing this will flush out the minerals that have accumulated in the soil through the holes in the pot.Solutions to Fern Leaves Curling

Another option is to transplant your fern in fresh soil to avoid the salt that has built up from the previous soil. Next time you fertilize, ensure that the plant has recovered from the previous burn. Also, ensure to fertilize not more than once a month and avoid doing it during the winter and late fall.

– Increase Humidity

To add the humidity level around your plant, add a room humidifier where it is located, mist it lightly every few days, or keep it away from fans or vents to avoid having dry fern leaves. For potted ferns, you can use the pebble tray method.

Get a clean tray, fill it with pebbles or small rocks for at least an inch, put your potted fern on the pebbles, and fill the tray with some water, almost halfway up the pebbles. Ensure that the plant is not sitting directly on the water. This method will increase the humidity around your plant as the water evaporates.

– Adequate Sunlight

Ferns would love a darker location. If you cannot move them around, put a sheer curtain over the pot or to the window to filter the light. You may even change their location to a spot where they can be in bright yet indirect light, like a windowsill. An east- or west-facing window is ideal for this plant because the sun is not intense in these positions.

You can cut the extremely damaged leaves as they cannot be saved anymore. As we have mentioned above, fern species have different light requirements. In short, knowing how much light your plant can tolerate is influential, so try to be experimental.

– Check the Soil Condition

Soil is an important factor in establishing and growing a healthy plant. Ferns require the kind of soil that is rich in nutrients, loamy, and holds moisture. If you think that the fern leaf is curling because of the quality of the soil where they are planted, transplant your fern into a new pot using fresh and well-draining soil.

Adding a mix of vermiculite, sphagnum, or peat moss to your potting soil will be a good idea. This will aerate the soil, improve drainage, and avoid your fern leaves drying out easily. Ferns also prefer acidic soil, so having a pH between 4.0 and 6.0 are the best option.

– Provide Enough Nutrients

To provide enough nutrients for your plant needs, you have to fertilize your plant regularly. Fertilize your fern adequately every two weeks during the growing season. As mentioned above, reduce it to once a month when the plant is established, and do not fertilize during the winter to late fall.

– Get Rid of Pests

Make sure to always inspect your plant to prevent pests from increasing in number. If you observe insects hovering around your plant, remove them immediately using your hands. If your plant is already infested, get rid of the pests using a diluted solution of two teaspoons of dish soap and neem oil in a half gallon of water.

Mix the solution well, and transfer it to a sprayer for easy application. Spray it directly on the leaves and stem, and repeat the procedure until the insects are gone.Details of Fern Leaves Curling

– Treat Diseases

Having a well-ventilated room for growing indoor ferns will do them good. If they are already going through a disease, cut the damaged leaves. You can also apply a fungicide that contains copper to kill or prevent the growth of fungi on your plant. Reapply until the fungi go away.


Fern leaves curling is the plant’s own way of surviving. It is a result of plenty of reasons that might be affecting the plant’s health, so as a responsible plant owner, keep the following key points in mind:

  • Ferns love water and moisture, but not in excessive amounts; the lack would stress them.
  • Having the right humidity levels are essential to their health, as tropical plants thrive in this environment.
  • They love shade more than direct sun exposure, so don’t deprive them of the light.
  • They prefer rich, loamy, well-draining soil with the right soil pH.
  • Regular and adequate fertilization will help them flourish, which you must do every two to three months.

Whatever your plant is suffering from will appear on its leaves, so as you help resolve your plant’s problems using this article, it will thrive and grace your home with beautiful and healthy leaves.

5/5 - (20 votes)
Evergreen Seeds